Coach’s goal against Ghana? Solid team spiritMIAMI -- As the clock is ticking to the kick off of the 2014 Brazil World Cup that begins on Friday Korea time, the Korean national football team coach Hong Myung-bo is in his last step to bring the team into a battle mode. After the Taegeuk Warriors disappointed fans with 1-0 loss against Tunisia that came up with poor pass works in offense and a failure to dominate midfield areas, Hong had busy time in improving such problems, but what he actually most has been trying to develop is a strong team spirit that he believes as the strongest weapon to advance to the second round.
“Everyone knows that our goal is to perform as a ‘one team’,” Hong said. “It doesn’t mean that we are only trying to improve our team works. The question is whether they are ready to sacrifice for the team’s success in the World Cup.”
The reason Hong has been consistently emphasizing this concept to player is because the team is very young at an average of 26.1 years old. It was 25.6 years old, but slightly increased after 21-year-old defender Kim Jin-soo was replaced with Park Joo-ho, 26. The team has been considered as a team with lack of leadership since their captain Koo Ja-cheol is only 25 and the event is their first for many of the team members. “It looks like Hong is asking fans to be patient and to trust them by telling media that they close ranks as a team,” said sports psychology professor Yoon Young-gil from the Korea National Sports University.
Whatever the reasons are, his efforts for the success in Brazil will have the final rehearsal this morning as Korea will have a friendly match against Ghana that kicks off 8 a.m. this morning Korea time, which is a sparring for African opponent Algeria. Korea had faced Ghana five times with an earned record of 3-2. Korea won 2-1 on the June 7 friendly at Jeonju World Cup Stadium with goals scored by Ji Dong-won and Koo Ja-cheol.
Before the 2006 Germany World Cup, Ghana was Korea’s last sparring partner just like this time. In the match at Scotland, Korea lost 3-1, but it was a good lesson for Korea as they were able to overpower Togo later in the World Cup after they found things they needed to improve. Hong expected to earn similar effects. “Winning the match is important, but we should earn something from this one,” Hong said.
Korea isn’t the only one who wants to earn something from the friendly match. Belgium, one of Korea’s three opponents in Group H has sent one of their staffs to Miami to study Korea.
According to the Korea Football Association, Belgium notified that they will send one coaching staff to the Sun Life Stadium and asked for the KFA’s cooperation.
Belgium in fact had been pretending that they are not so interested about studying Korea after they lost 3-2 against Japan last year, which they considered as a test against Korea. They had two friendly matches against Sweden (June 2/2-0 win) and Tunisia (Sunday/1-0 win), but they were rehearsals against Russia and Algeria, which are in Group H along with Korea and Belgium.
Unlike the recent moves however the KFA said that Belgium in fact had been aggressively gathering information about Korea. It said two of their coaching staffs designated in analyzing Korea have watched Taegeuk Warriors’ most of recent friendly matches including the one against Greece in March, in which Korean won 2-0, and also have been monitoring every media reports about Korea.
“They acted like they are not interested about Korea, but it was because they already have done studying them,” a reporter from Belgium told the JoongAng Ilbo.
The KFA said Belgium didn’t inform that whether they would send their staffs in previous friendly matches, therefore telling Korea that they have sent a staff at this time indicates that they have pretty much finished about studying Korea and all they want to do is just verifying information they collected.
Coach Hong is aware of such circumstances. He said, “Some experiments I had been working on aren’t completed yet,” indicating that he might not unveil his every tactics. Hong said he will mix up some jersey numbers to confuse spies.
BY SONG JI-HOON, KIM JI-HAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]